One of the biggest challenges I feel anyone has to face is themselves. Ultimately we are the ones that prevent us from doing things. We might not always have control over what goes on around us, or to us, but our ability to react to still ours. Now, I wish I could say that this is true all the time, as there are moments where it is not (and those suck), but these moments are not what I am addressing today.
In an ideal world, people would be able to see the repercussions of their decisions instantly. We wouldn’t have family squabbles, and “fighting like cats and dogs” wouldn’t have ever been used metaphorically, as I know of cats and dogs that get along just fine. We live in a world where anything is possible, and where your life can change instantly and without any warning.
We do not walk around constantly looking over our shoulders, worrying about what could be around the next corner. That would be an exhausting way to live, but, sometimes, you can’t help but fall into thinking about all the things that could go wrong. What will my next scan look like? What if my cancer progresses? What if I have mets? Will I be able to get a job after this? What if I never get my life back on track? Will I die before I turn 40? Would anyone miss me?
As Charlie Brown might say, “good grief!”
It’s strange that I think of Charlie Brown, as I grew up on Calvin and Hobbes and never really read a Peanuts strip in my life. My Peanuts knowledge was based on what popular culture shoved into my face: Snoopy the dog, “the Great Pumpkin,” football gags, the miserable little Christmas tree, and of course, Charlie Brown.
There is something about this guy Charlie Brown, and his cries of “good grief,” that seems to stick out to me. I found this fascinating, so I did what anyone would do when they are confronted with a curious interest and a spare Sunday afternoon: I started scouring Google and Wikipedia to read more about Charlie Brown. Like most good internet research, the more I read, the more sense it made as to why I was curious in the first place.
Charlie Brown was constantly at war with his emotions, always worried if he was respected or liked by his friends, constantly a victim of circumstance, and nothing ever seemed to go his way. Even when things start going well, he manages to blow it all in the 11th hour, like when he lost a spelling bee championship in the finals. He was always worried if his team would win the ball game (they don’t), or if he would ever get a chance with the red-headed girl (he doesn’t). And of course, there is that football. The opportunity of that one thing that is just within our reach, we all have those goals and dreams we reach for and work toward. Charlie Brown never kicked that football but he always seems to believe that this time will be different than the last, his optimism and persistence never gave out, and he kept on despite the difficulties he faced.
Looking at Mr. Brown, we have a character who if was a real person, has every reason to give up on himself, but never does. He has the moments of self pity, the “why me,” and I think “yeah, I’ve been there.” Charlie Brown has this amazing ability to remain optimistic, even after the most depressing of situations. Charlie Brown may be a character, but he also has something valuable to share with readers, a message of resiliency and pushing forward through the tough stuff that life throws at us.
Like myself and many others who face cancer, we go through a lot of crap, and what are we left with? Sometimes, it seems like not a whole lot, and other times, it can feel like we get too much on our plate and it is almost unmanageable. But it is those Charlie Brown moments, where even though it seems like the entire world is against you, you still find the strength to push forward and follow that gut instinct. Life is not always fair, but it does not mean we have to give up at the first, the second, or even the hundredth obstacle that lands in front of us things will play out the way they will play out. There is always something on the other side of hardship and struggle.